Archive for October, 2008

Direct Mail- PURLs of Wisdom

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Last Sunday we finally witnessed the Bears win with a well executed Orton two minute drill against the Falcons, only to see them lose in the last 11 seconds of the game… only in Chicago.

Variable Data

But enough dwelling on the sad state of sports in the Windy City; it’s time to get down to business. Last week we chatted a little bit about traditional direct mail and running a matrix to test multiple components. Now there is a way to make the process even easier and more specific– and get better returns. This can be done thanks for the advent of variable data printing. What this means is that I can run multiple campaign at the same time without worrying about how my jobs fit on press. Variable data printing doesn’t need to run on a traditional press; it runs on a digital press that doesn’t involve plates or film. Basically, I can run as many tests as I want on any given press run as long as I define the relationships appropriately. Using the breakdowns from our previous matrix, I can define Offer 1, 2, and 3 with my artwork and actually make it more specific by relating it to my demographics as well. This means I can send a different Offer 1 to folks out west than the offer I am sending the folks down south, and a different Offer 2 to mothers than the one I am sending teens… and even including their name and other personal info within the piece. This leaves me with a matrix testing 64 variable versus 16– pretty darn good considering the cost really doesn’t go up. And this also takes the Seth Godin approach that messages that are more personal and relevant will increase conversion.

Using PURL’s
OK, so what next? How about purls? Check out one great example I received just this week (see above). Like variable data printing, PURLs (or personalized urls) give marketing a more tailored feel. Paula Andruss’s article,”Personalized URLs” in September’s Marketing News Magazine, delves into this a bit. PURLs allow a targeted individual or company to be directed to their own unique page. (In the example above, my site is This makes for a personalized experience and engages in ways other marketing techniques cannot– and it can display information pertinent to their interests and lifestyle. And according to the article, PURLs are gaining ground because overall, consumers prefer to respond online, rather than making a phone call or going into a store. The use of PURLs can then track consumer behavior, which allows companies to modify their own behavior based on trends. And this approach works for the B2B realm as well; businesses can see who is using their PURLs and where they are spending most of their time on their site.

So, in a nutshell, PURLs are pretty cool. The only concern might be with those who are fearful of their information being stored online. This fear does not apply to most businesses, and as for consumers, a pass code can be applied in order for them to access the site any further than the landing page. This way everyone wins, and companies are able to access information like never before. Wow, how’s that for accountability?

My thought for the day: Use the variable data printing and PURLs together, and you have a pretty darn good formula for a good mailing– and better mailings to come!

Moving on with Direct Mail

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

And for Chicago sports today… [long, uncomfortable silence]. Enough said.

On that note, I’m on to research a little more on how social bookmarking and RSS feeds tie into the big ole social networking picture, but more on that later. I thought now would be a good time to bring up another cross-over marketing tactic; direct mail. It has been a pretty effective tool for a lot of our clients, whether it’s B2B or B2C. Our approach has always been to test, test and test with the following components:
  1. Test the call-to-action- Every piece needs to relay a message or offer to the client that gives them a reason to react. With offset printing I can usually get three jumbo postcards up on a sheet… this means I can test three messages.
  2. Test target markets- I like to get my list and break it down into persona’s. For businesses it might be verticals such as insurance or banking, where for consumer marketing it might be moms or teens.
  3. Test the geo-market- I also like to break my list down into geographic boundaries. For example I might test city versus rural.

By breaking my direct mail projects down in this facet, I can create a matrix to test each campaign and create some sort of coding to measure return. Obviously the return mechanism would be different for each client, but some low-tech solutions include placing a code on the direct mail piece and have the operator ask for the code or bring the piece in for redemption. Some of the high tech mechanisms in the past have included landing pages or RCF (Remote Call Forwarding) lines to track the return. Once the returns are counted and placed in the spreadsheet, you would get something that looks like the chart below. Well, shucks, it looks like Offer 3 was the big dog and it seemed to work the best with Target Market 3. And it worked even better in Geo Target 2. So, what did I learn here? Hopefully I received a good return overall, but more importantly, what can I do next time? In this case I’d know where to put my dollars for my next direct mail campaign.

All of this is fine and dandy and has helped us develop some pretty darn good campaigns over the years. But now there’s something even cooler out there. Tomorrow I’ll give a little shot out to purl’s and variable data printing… where the “fit hits the shan.”

You can Click Here to see a few direct mail samples to help you out.

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

All right, the Cubs are out of it after deciding to not show up for the playoffs. As the line goes, there’s always next year… Now my hopes and dreams are resting with the Bears. God help us. Now that the games are only once a week (versus the demanding baseball season), maybe I can get some work done, eh?

As I’m documenting the social networking relationships and processes, I thought I would share a few more traditional items over the course of the week. We are in the midst of a beta test to answer the more recent age old question, “Yellow Pages or Online?” Of course the quick answer to that is “it depends,” but we took it a step further with an existing client.

Yellow Pages have long since been the immeasurable marketing vehicle that would appear more like a crutch than an asset to most location-driven companies. In a 2004 blog post , Seth Godin referred to the Yellow Pages as the “Internet of its day.” Sure, the Yellow Pages got companies’ names out (and still do), but with advances in technology, business owners will opt for the medium with measurable results nine times out of 10. If most firms either doubled their Yellow Page spend or cut it in half, would they be able to tell me the difference? The typical answer is “no.”

Thus begins our little story. One of our clients has multiple locations and had a pretty big chunk of past marketing budget going toward Yellow Pages. When times were tough, they went from full pages to bold listings. This move had no rhyme or reason; it was based on somewhat of a gut feeling, with cost cuts leading the way. We wanted to bring some accountability into decisions like these by testing return. In order to do this, we set up five control locations in different regions of the US. With each location we ran a different size Yellow Page ad (to test placement size return) and IYP (or Internet Yellow Pages- to test online directory searches), as well as PPC (with Google Adwords- using our own system). For each of these tests we are running a RCF (Remote Call Forwarding) line to track calls coming from each vehicle. Once the results are in we can determine what works better and where, leaving room for regional differences. The next step will be taking the process nationwide. The test began in October and we should be getting the results later in November… stay tuned!

The Road to Documentation

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Alright, Notre Dame’s a cookin’, Illinois is getting kicked around and the Cubbies are on the backburner til this evening. I’m starting to document the relationships between the social media vehicles as well as a few tricks of the trade. Then I’m going to attempt to relate those to the other marketing vehicles we’ve been playing with for the past 10 years or so. For example tying social networking into PR, into Direct Mail… even in to tradeshows. It’s fun to see the dust settle from digging in the trenches and to be able to put it into some sort of strategic sense. I have about three beta tests going on amongst friends/clients and I look forward to tying some case studies to the documentation.

Btw, here’s an incredible link from Peter Kim that describes what 134 brands are doing in social media Click Here.

Connecting the dots

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Alright, so the Cubbies lost again… damn the goat. So back onto social networking I go. The goal today is to tie the blog with my facebook, myspace, linked in etc… as well as tie the puppy to delicious and to digg, etc. My aim is to do this whole exercise code free for the most part in order to keep the integrity in check. My developer is one of the best around, but I figure if I can determine the relationships between the vehicles then the overall strategy for our future clients will be in better hands. Or that’s the theory anyways.

Test 123

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Alright, this is the 2nd playoff game for the Cubbies, and with the anxiety I am already feeling… I thought it would be nice to figure out this whole blogging thing. Sure I’ve wrangled social networking, tackled twitter so now it’s time to go retro. To the blog I go! Today I am messing around with rss feeds and twitterfeed and trying to tie the blog into facebook and maybe a few other sites. Be sure to chuckle at my blogging misfortunes and wayward adventures… it should be a hoot to watch.